The Venezuela regime of strongman Nicolas Maduro has issued a decree providing that, to quote CNBC, “workers can be forcefully moved from their jobs to work in farm fields or elsewhere in the agricultural sector for periods of 60 days.” It’s shocking, yet as I note in a new post at Cato, “in fact elements of forced labor have cropped up in socialist experiments even in nations with strong track records of constitutional government and civil liberties, such as postwar Britain.” Happy (free and unbound) Labor Day!
“Calling the Department of Labor’s new interpretation of its LMRDA Persuader Rule ‘defective to its core,’ the District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide injunction” against the Final Rule published on March 24, 2016.” [Labor Relations Today, earlier] We summarized the regulations early on:
New Department of Labor regulations will require, on pain of serious criminal penalties, regular disclosures by lawyers, consultants, advisers, website developers, P.R. firms, pollsters and many others whose activities might persuade employees not to sign union cards. (Current regulations require disclosures only regarding consultants who actually meet with employees, as opposed to generating information that might reach them.)
The result would be not only to put we-know-where-you-live intimidation pressure on a much wider range of persons, and create many new tripwires for damaging liability, but also imperil attorney-client privilege, as with a provision demanding that attorneys disclose relationships with other clients.
Relax and let Bill Steigerwald do the driving as he refutes a bad new book that bashes Uber and the gig economy.
- Obama pay reporting rules: “Forget for a moment that the whole purpose [is] to provide litigation attorneys a database they can mine to legally harass businesses. The reporting requirements here are incredibly onerous.” [Coyote, earlier here and here]
- This seems so French: “Man Sues Former Employers for Boring Him” [Atlas Obscura, Paris; but compare 1994 Canadian story of attorney Paul Ebbs]
- Second Circuit: managers, supervisors can be individually liable for Family and Medical Leave Act violations [Daniel Schwartz, Jon Hyman] Can one of those managers dismiss an employee who’s exhausted the allotted FMLA leave and not come back? Given the presence of the ADA in the background, you might have to guess [Schwartz]
- Invincible myths of the pay gap [Robin Shea, Hans Bader/CEI, Claudia Goldin 2014 via Marc Andreesen, earlier]
- Yes, a legislature does advance important state interests when it pre-empts local employment regulations [Hans Bader, CEI, on one element of North Carolina HB 2 law, on which earlier]
- Here come “ban the box” bills restricting private, not just public, employer inquiries into criminal records of job applicants [Daniel Schwartz, Connecticut; Aabid Allibhai, On Labor]
At Workforce.com, attorney/blogger Jon Hyman, often linked in this space, follows up on the Mercatus Center report on the high cost of the Obama administration edict ordering overtime for mid-level salaried workers. He writes:
I’d like to focus on one such unintended consequence — lack of workplace flexibility.
From the report:
If employers are forced to record and measure employee hours, they will shift away from allowing employees to telecommute because the cost of monitoring hours for telecommuting is significantly higher, although not impossible given new technologies. The proposed regulation would create a scenario whereby telecommuters have an incentive to work overtime because they would get paid 1.5 times the regular rate and, knowing this, employers have an incentive to make sure employees do not work overtime. A mechanism will be needed by which the employer is able to track the work hours of employees such that the employer knows when an employee is working overtime. Showing up at work and clocking in is the mechanism by which employers normally track employees’ hours. With telecommuting, it is difficult for an employer to track the number of hours worked. As a result, employers may require telecommuters to start physically showing up for work so that they to track and monitor the number of hours these employees work.
Employees like being exempt. They like the flexibility of not having to track their hours. They like the flexibility that comes with a salary that compensates an employee for all hours worked in week, whether it’s 30 hours this week, or 65 hours next week, or 47 hours the week after. The new regulations will strip 5 million employees of this flexibility and convert them to time trackers. Does this change benefit employees? I bet if you polled the 5 million, you’d find that most would prefer to keep their flexibility instead of trading it in for whatever minimal additional compensation (if any) they expect to recover from a switch to non-exempt.
…one of the hottest ideas among lawmakers right now is to ban employers from running credit checks on job applicants. Since 2007, eleven states, as well as Chicago and New York City, have passed such laws….
But a new study from Robert Clifford, an economist at the Boston Fed, and Daniel Shoag, an assistant professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, finds that when employers are prohibited from looking into people’s financial history, something perverse happens: African-Americans become more likely to be unemployed relative to others….
“Employers have many screening measures to narrow down who they want to hire,” Shoag says. “If you take one away, they’ll put more weight on the others.” … Whatever the new criteria were, they seem to have put black applicants at a disadvantage.
[Jeff Guo, Washington Post “WonkBlog”] Shoag gets the best line of the piece: “This reflects a general movement of legislators monkeying around with the hiring process without thinking about the consequences.” A contrary view: Robert Hiltonsmith and Sean McElwee, US News.
Most major retailing chains have been sued under one or another of two California laws providing that workers who otherwise would spend most of the day on their feet must be given suitable seating when “the nature of the work” permits it. The scope of the law’s application had been ambiguous, but now the California high court has ruled and trial lawyers are apparently pleased with its answers. [Lisa Nagele-Piazza, BNA Daily Labor Report] More: Coyote.
- A good labor economics class lets you see through society’s secular religion [Bryan Caplan first, second, and third (“Why labor fallacies have replaced industrial organization fallacies in society’s secular religion”) posts]
- “Meet The Obama Czars Who Decide How Your Workplace Runs” [Connor Wolf/Daily Caller, and thanks for quote]
- Welcome news for employers: Seventh Circuit signals it isn’t buying EEOC’s attack on severance offers in CVS case [Jon Hyman, background]
- Can a unionized Uber or Lyft driver file a grievance over your negative comment as a customer? “It’s not at all clear how union job protection policies can jibe with a community-rating economy.” [Brian Doherty, Reason]
- Riffling through just one day’s BNA Labor Report, Michael Fox finds headlines like Firing After FMLA Request Raises Triable Issues, Recommendation Letter Saves Fired Professor’s Bias Suit, and Commission Seeks Comment on Workplace Murder Case [Employer’s Lawyer]
- Disney exec: here’s our plan to engage in racial discrimination in hiring journalists [Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism] Have they compared notes with BuzzFeed Canada? [Mediaite]
- On minimum wage, New York Times editors find Hillary Clinton overly tethered to economic reality, urge cutting of final moorings [Charles Hughes, Cato] “The Evidence Is Piling Up That Higher Minimum Wages Kill Jobs” [David Neumark, WSJ]
The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, sometimes gives employers an incentive to reduce the work hours of employees so that they will not meet eligibility thresholds for costly health insurance. Lawyers for employees have responded by arguing that this reduction of hours constitutes “retaliation” under ERISA and is itself unlawful. Now a Southern District of New York federal court seems to have bought the theory, at least to the extent to denying a defense motion to dismiss. [R. Pepper Crutcher, Balch & Bingham on Marin v. Dave & Buster’s, Inc.]